Essential Oils 101: The What, How, and Why of Essential Oils

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So if you're on my email list, then you know a couple weeks ago I mentioned how essential oils was my new healthy obsession...! If you're not, that's totally okay! You can get on it by grabbing one (or both) of my freebies >> Real Food Guide and Quick-Start Guide for Balancing Hormones. I've been using essential oils on and off for a few years now, but never actually learned the details of what they were (beyond the basics) and how they work in the body. If you really dig into them, they are pretty nifty and all-around helpful tools in the healthy living sphere.

Not only can you use them for diffusing and making the house smell amazing, but you can also use them as a topical ointment, for non-toxic cleaning products, beauty products, and many many more!

These oils have been used for generations for healing from diseases or infections, pain relief, cure for sickness, as well as for therapeutic remedies.

Now that I hope you're intrigued a bit, here's your 101 guide to essential oils:

What are essential oils?

Diffusing essential oils with a reed.
Diffusing essential oils with a reed.

In short, essential oils are the aromatic and chemical compounds found in plants.  Through the process of distillation or cold-pressing, compounds are extracted from plants to produce a super concentrated oil.  These plants have been used for generations for healing, cleaning, and therapeutic remedies.

How do essentials oils work?

Essential oils work in a few different ways.  Each plant is made up of unique compounds that react to the body differently.  Some of these compounds are anti-inflammatory while others are cleansing; some work to detox the body while others work to strengthen the body.  For different health issues, there will be a different essential oil with various compounds that will help re-balance and heal that particular issue.

In the Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple, author David Stewart says:

"Essential oils are multi-dimensional, filled with homeostatic intelligence to restore the body to a state of healthy balance. When body conditions change, oils adapt, raising or lowering blood pressure as needed, stimulating or repressing enzyme activity as needed, energizing or relaxing as needed. Oils are smart."

Unlike drugs that give a false-positive to many health issues, plants are smart and help the body support itself as it was made to do.  It's no wonder why essential oils were such a common treatment for disease for thousands of years.

Potency and purity are two very important things to keep in mind when choosing essential oils -- you don't want to waste your money on a product that has only 7% of the actual oil in their product!  (Sadly, this is the case with many brands -- they contain a very small amount of actual essential oil and the rest if filled with alcohol, water, and fragrance...).  This is why I use and trust only particular essential oils.  They must not only be pure and potent, but they also must give you the test results for the oils so I know they are the real deal!  And that kind of honesty in a company is amazing and deserving of respect.

How do you use essential oils?

There are three main methods of using essential oils: 1) topically, 2) internally, 3) aromatically.  Each method has a time and place -- all depending on the issue at hand.

Fragrant field of lavender.
Fragrant field of lavender.

If you are looking to alleviate a skin, muscle, organ, joint, or bone issue, then you would want to apply the essential oil directly on or over the area or on the bottom of your feet (reflexology foot points).  This way, the oil with go through your skin and hit your bloodstream where it will quickly aid the affected area.

If you are feeling under the weather or need to build your immune system, consuming the oil internally (if directed) would be your best bet.  This method is best for acute issues (such as indigestion or the seasonal threats) as well as strengthening your immune system as a whole with daily oils to help the liver to detoxify.

And if you're needing a mental or emotional change, then diffusing the oil aromatically would be the go-to method.  Whether this is to increase your energy for a speech you have to give, ridding that fog over your head due to sickness or a hormonal imbalance, calming nerves and balancing emotions, or helping you fall asleep more easily, when you breathe in essential oils, their scent along with their chemical compounds go straight to the emotional part of your brain which affects many different systems in the body (endocrine, ANS, immune, and neurotransmitter systems to name a few).

You can also use many oils in your cleaning and beauty products as many do contain antiseptic and nurturing properties.

Why should I use essential oils?

Soap made using essential oils and other non-toxic ingredients.
Soap made using essential oils and other non-toxic ingredients.

My biggest reason?  Our skin is our largest organ, so why do we treat it like nothing penetrates through it??  All these beauty products with nasty ingredients like SLS, cleaners with ammonia, and all sorts of other chemicals that have not been researched.  When we wash ourselves with these chemicals, they go through our skin and enter the bloodstream and affect our bodies from the inside-out typically starting with the liver (as if it doesn't have enough work to do with our poor diets!)  But it's not just the touch of these toxins, it's the smell too!  Just as the compounds in essential oils go through our nasal track and penetrates the brain, so do these toxic chemicals.  Why put so much stress on our bodies?  We know it isn't good for us, and yet we do it anyway.

So, it's completely up to you whether or not to add these oils into your life, but essential oils are one of the purest products that can use to replace a bunch of synthetic and harmful toxic ingredients in your house -- many of which disrupt hormones too!  For instance, all of those harmful substances in laundry detergent, window cleaner, body wash, hand lotion and much more -- they all affect your health more than you know!  If you actually look at the studies and the ingredients of these products in the EWG (Environmental Working Group), you will see just how many of these common household products contain potential cancerous compounds, endocrine disruptors, and increased aging.  You can find many recipes to replace your everyday products online and on Pinterest.

Wrapping things up.

Essential oils can help with so many health issues -- healing current issues as well as preventing new ones.  Whether you want to replace your first aid kit with only natural healing agents, avoid the toxic OTC medications that merely cover up the symptoms, or you want to balance your emotions and hormones, essentials oils may just be your new best friend.

I have made the switch to essential oils and I'm not looking back the other way.  I want to be the healthiest version of me and I want my future children to grow up doing the same.

So why wait another day?  Shoot me an email from my contact page with any questions and to find out how to get these pure oils at a steep discount!

So what do you think?  Will you make the change?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!